So, how’s everyone feeling? Tired because the first half took two hours? I’m right there with you.
Nonetheless, the Syracuse Orange responded swiftly and violently to an opening drive score by Western Michigan to send the Broncos home packing. Syracuse’s defense shut down any hope Western Michigan had as the Orange went airborne to win 48-7. And while the style of win was different than last week, the outcome when it comes to grading this team is pretty much the same. Lets go through them:
It took some time for Shrader to settle into the game. It seemed like his accuracy was all over the place during the first drive. After that, he got back on track and, for the second week in a row, led Syracuse’s offensive charge with his arm. Granted, the defenses that he’s facing are not the greatest. However, the mere fact that Syracuse showed the ability to run a pretty one-dimensional offense with almost pure passing plays and win by a big margin is something not a lot of fans thought they would say with Shrader as quarterback.
Carlos Del Rio-Wilson looked okay, but not great in his second backup stint of the year. Jury is still out on how Syracuse is going to look if Shrader needs to miss any time this season.
Running Back: A
I mean, when they were called upon, the running backs looked good? I guess?
I don’t remember a recent time in Syracuse football history where Syracuse relied so much on the passing game to generate offense. The large majority of the running plays that LeQuint Allen was involved in were on short goal-to-go situations. His efficiency there was excellent with three touchdowns, but it is curious that the offense didn’t utilize him more during the drive. But hey, credit where credit’s due. When Syracuse called a running play, it usually ended in success.
Wide Receivers: A-
Save for a bad drop, the wideouts did all they could to support Shrader and the offense in ensuring that the aerial attack would work. It was also promising to see that the young core, particularly Donovan Brown and Umari Hatcher, helped pick up the slack when Oronde Gadsden went down with injury. Isaiah Jones also continued to show that he can be a suitable 1-A substitute for Gadsden as Shrader’s favorite receiver. And Darrell Gill showcased some of the high ceiling he has with all of the physical attributes he possesses.
Offensive Line: D
Now is when we start to panic.
Think for a second. If Syracuse had a traditional pocket passer at quarterback, do you think this game goes the same way?
Shrader’s natural mobility got him out of a lot of collapsing pockets. Yes, this was against a defense that liked to bring heavy blitzes on most situations. However, Shrader’s scrambling was the main factor in keeping him off the sack column. The fact that Syracuse also didn’t go with any running plays in midfield situations and just stuck with heavy goal-line packages for rushes doesn’t fill me with much optimism about the offensive line’s run blocking potential. Add to everything an injury to David Wohlabaugh Jr. and Syracuse is not looking great up front.
Defensive Line: A
I admit, I was skeptical when Kevon Darton was named the starting defensive tackle. However, he’s done very well so far this season and continues to cement his place in the starting lineup. The defensive line did what it was supposed to do: attract attention and let the linebackers go to work. There was a lot of space created by the line that opened up holes for the linebackers to take free shots in the backfield.
As usual, the linebackers showcased why they are the focal point of this defensive attack in the 3-3-5. Syracuse’s freaky athleticism in the linebacker corps reigned supreme and forced a lot of uncomfortable situations for Western Michigan. Not much else to say here. These guys are good.
Defensive Backs: A
After not being tested last week, the DBs reminded us that they’ve got playmaking potential as well. The corners are doing exceptional, with Isaiah Johnson excelling at preventing yards after catch and Jeramiah Wilson showcasing a natural ability to jump in front of routes. It was a relatively quiet night for the safeties except for Jason Simmons’ pick-six, but they manned the middle of the field well.
Special Teams: B-
Brady Denaburg made both of his chip shot field goals, which is the bare minimum you could ask for. Jack Stonehouse continues to boot the ball away well. However, I’m not convinced about D’Marcus Adams as a return man. It seems like he wants to make a play on every return. While there’s explosive potential in him, more often than not he’s thinking too far ahead and either running himself right into blockers or muffing kicks. Syracuse could really use Trebor Pena back sooner rather than later.
Now it’s your turn. What grades are you giving out? Sound off in the comments below.